Have you been thinking about seeing a therapist for as long as you remember, but still aren’t sure- is therapy worth it? Has ‘attend therapy’ been on your to-do list for months, even years at this point, but you still have not reached out to a therapist?
People seek out therapy for all types of reasons in search of healing various mental health conditions or relationship issues.
There are many different types of therapy based on what you are looking for and how you tend to integrate change into your life (cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, emotion-focused therapy, and solutions-focused, to name a few).
Regardless of which type of therapy you choose, the most research shows that the most important factor in the success of therapy is the rapport and trust you have with your clinician. With the trust and foundation as your base, therapy offers countless benefits, ranging from mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual.
Therapy is no doubt and investment of time, finances, and emotional effort. It’s completely normal to wonder feel hesitant and have some questions about whether it’s right for you, or if you could really benefit from it.
Today, I’m going to break down if therapy is worth it for you based on where you’re at and what you’re looking for. I am going to share some evidence based reasons therapy may be worth it for you.
Is therapy worth it?
Full disclosure, I am a) a therapist and b) a person who has benefitted on a deep, personal level from individual, couples, and family therapy.
So of course, I have experienced that yes, therapy is worth it- on personal, professional, and clinical levels. I see transformation in my clients all the time- transformations that I believe are unique to being in the therapeutic space. I have always been a deep-feeler, and I’ve always felt both the immediate relief and long-term impacts of attending therapy.
But I know this isn’t the case for everyone. So let’s talk about what you have to gain from mental health care, and what might still be holding you back.
5 Benefits of Therapy
Have a safe space to vent freely
Having a nonjudgemental space to explore your pure, raw thoughts is one of the biggest benefits of therapy. When you have a lot on your mind or are experiencing stress in your life, releasing the pressure of everything you are holding in is therapeutic in and of itself. I’m sure you can relate to how much lighter you feel after a phone call with a friend or partner when they can just hear everything that’s going on for you.
Unlike a friend, a therapist listens to your venting with a trained hear, and will slowly start to guide you into noticing particular patterns. When you vent, you give your therapist insight into your thought patterns and the way you experience emotions, which will help your therapist understand you and how to help you.
You also reveal thought patterns that may be shaping the way you see things, and your therapist can help you label those thoughts and emotions. Research shows that techniques like labeling actually diffuse thoughts and decrease the intensity that you experience emotions.
Regulate your emotions and build emotional intelligence
In the modern world, we spend so much of our lives reacting to things around us. More and more, people are talking about how important emotional intelligence is- in relationships and even in performance in the work place. We all experience emotions, and knowing how to manage those emotions is crucial in our ability to function effectively.
A therapist will do is guide you to slow down and actually hear the words you are saying, pull up the thoughts that are framing your believes, and bring into consciousness your reactive behaviors. A therapist will guide you in understanding what emotions are and how to feel emotions, so that you can limit negative reactions and build coping skills to deal with difficult or triggering events.
Understand why you’re in the place you are
Different therapies will have different approaches, but usually, a therapist will build a holistic understanding of you (i.e. your attachment history): the relationships you’ve had, the ways your family impacted the way you think, your physical health, the society you live in, culture, and more.
Insight is not the goal of therapy, but it is a necessary step in having new experiences and creating changes. When you can understand how your experiences and relationships have contributed to the ways you think, perceive, and react to certain situations, it is much easier to release those patterns and create new ones.
Trying to take different actions without understanding the old ones is sort of like trying to put a bandage on a wound without cleaning it out first. The cleaning can be unpleasant, and the cleaning alone will not heal the wound, but it is a step that cannot be skipped.
The insight and understanding usually result in more understanding and self-compassion, which can quickly alleviate anxiety and increase confidence and satisfaction.
Develop coping skills to manage future challenges
Once you have clarify about how you got to where you are and have experiences in therapy that change your perspective, you will develop skills to manage difficult situations in the future. This step is crucial because while therapy can be a longer-term relationship, it is not meant to last forever. Once healing and progress have occurred, your therapist will guide you to create strategies to sustain the changes over time.
Coping skills will tailored to your therapeutic journey, progress and goals, and can include emotional regulation, mindfulness exercises, and values-guided activities.
These skills will take time to learn, understand, and integrate. The therapist will be there as you begin using them to troubleshoot any areas you continue to get stuck.
Improve your relationships
The state of your mental health impacts your whole life- your relationships with your partner, your relationships with your family, social life, your ability to progress in your career and achieve your goals, and more. When you improve your own mental health, you carry these insights and new skills into all the other parts of your life, and experience the benefits tenfold.
Even if you work in therapy individually with a counselor, you inevitably will transform your relationships. If would like to more specifically work on relationship health, your therapist can help you in how to ask your partner to go to couples therapy and how to incorporate family members to reach your goals.
What’s holding you back from starting?
Part of the challenge in investing in therapy is that clients cannot see a tangible figure for their return on investment.
But can you imagine how much better your relationships, your performance at work, your potential to reach your goals would be if you had the opportunity to improve your mental health? Let’s talk about what might be holding you back and wondering is therapy worth it.
I get it, therapy services are expensive. If you are looking for a therapist who specializes and has advanced training in a certain area, they more than likely are not on insurance panels, and you may wonder if therapy is worth the cost.
There are therapists that offer speciality services at reasonable rates. I have noticed that there are many people who will mindlessly drop upwards of $200 multiple nights a week on dinner or bar tabs, or spend thousands of dollars on vacations or impulsive online shopping.
Consider that you may be sending a message about what is important to you by where you spend your money.
Fascinating research actually found that investing in therapeutic services is 32x more cost effective in increasing happiness than simply increasing the amount of money you have. The researchers found that the increase in well-being in daily life gained from investing $800 in therapy would have taken a pay raise of over $25,000 for a comparable increase in mental health.
I don’t know about you, but those findings make me think way differently about the investment into talk therapy or online therapy and its potential to improve quality of life like nothing else can. The return on investment will unfold for *years* to come, probably even the rest of your life.
If finances really are tight and you can’t get around it, here are a few workarounds:
- Explore your out-of-network insurance coverage! I cannot recommend this enough- many people have out of network funds that go unused that they could be putting toward therapy. You’ll be responsible upfront for the fee, but you might be able to get a significant portion of it reimbursed. Make sure your therapist is able to provide a monthly super-bill for services.
- Look for a therapist that has sliding scale availability (many reserve a few each week).
- Ask if your therapist supervises any students you could see at a lower fee.
I know everyone says this when offering a reframe about time, but it’s so true: how much time do you spend scrolling on your phone each day? How much time do you spend binge watching Netflix each day?
I know we are all busy and time scarcity is real. (If time is a issue, virtual tele-health mental health therapy is an amazing option for you). Be honest with yourself if you really don’t have 50 minutes to set aside each week.
And, how much time do you spend suffering in your relationships and in ..do you have the time to not go to therapy? To keep letting life pass you by without looking inward and figuring out what the meaning of all of this is?
I know the investment into therapy can seem overwhelming, and even scary. Taking the emotional energy each week to explore the depths of your mind is hard work.
For a lot of people, a resistance to therapy is more about the unconscious fear of what they may have to face in themselves than it is about an inability to secure finances or find the time in their schedule to meet.
If you have wanted to start therapy but still haven’t leaned all the way in, I’d gently encourage you to ask yourself:
- What might happen if I lean into therapy?
- Is there something in my past I am avoiding that I don’t want to look at?
- Am I so used to living in stress, anxiety, and discomfort that the thought of things changing (for the better) is actually scary?
- What makes it hard for me to believe a therapist could really understand me in a way that will impact my life?
A word about fear: The reality is, if you are facing internal resistance or fear to start therapy, this is likely your unconscious mind’s attempt at trying to protect you. Our minds are scared of change, and when they sense that stability might be shaken (even in the very best way!), our mind will try to protect us by keeping us in the familiar.
The fact that you have been considering therapy and that something inside you is getting activated by even thinking about it are very good indicators that this could be the perfect step for you.
Therapy is worth it. What do I do next?
More than anything, therapy can guide you to feeling safe and secure in who you are. This security will calm your nervous system and translate to mental and spiritual clarity and can even alleviate physical health issues (e.g. held tension in the body can be released, decreased impacts of heart health from stress, etc.).
So, is therapy with it? Yes- you are ready to lean in. So, what’s the next step?
Finding a therapist
Look for a good therapist who specializes in an area you would like to work on in your life. For example, I am a relationship and systemic focused therapist, helping people who have a lot of anxiety and relationship conflict live more freely by:
- Exploring their attachment style and history
- Identifying and cultivating safe relationships in their life
- Developing coping skills to manage anxiety when it comes up
- Getting clear on the core values and creating strategies to live by those values
A google search for a provider in your area (for marriage counseling, couples counseling, relationship counseling, or couples therapist) or an online directory like Psychology Today are great places to start your search.
Many counselors will offer a free introductory call before you book an intake. Remember how important it is to pick a therapist that you can trust and vibe with in terms of your therapeutic outcomes, so definitely take them up on this call.
If offered, here are some questions you can ask the therapist:
- How do you view problems?
- What is your approach to treatment?
- How will we know if I am progressing in treatment?
- How long does treatment usually last?
- What can I expect in a typical session?
You don’t have to be an expert on these areas. But the therapist should make you both feel safe about the space they will offer, in tune with their approach, and clear about the next steps. Share any of the hesitations that you have with your potential clinician, and see how their response makes you feel.
As a therapist, ‘Is therapy worth it?’ is a question that is so normal to wonder. Seeking out a therapist and starting therapy are hugely brave of you. I am so confident that with these benefits in mind, you will approach the journey with the motivation you need to make the changes you seek in your life.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mae, the creative behind Good Living with Mae, about therapy and mental health broadly. Check out our conversation for a non-therapist take on the topic of therapy.
Thanks for reading!
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(If you are located in Florida, we offer Marriage Counseling in Naples, FL– virtual services- reach out to inquire about availability.)
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